A 93-year-old World War II veteran from the United States embraced his wartime girlfriend in Australia in their reunion Wednesday after more than 70 years apart, in what he described as the “most wonderful thing that could have happened to me.”
Norwood Thomas and 88-year-old Joyce Morris laughed as they wrapped their arms around each other after Thomas flew from Virginia to the southern Australian city of Adelaide to reconnect with his long-lost love.
Steve Thomas, his son, told the Australian newspaper The Advertiser that the trip was long and demanding and that Morris was 18 the last time she and his father met.
"This is about the most wonderful thing that could have happened to me," Norwood Thomas said, in a reunion broadcast on Channel 10's "The Project."
"Good," Morris replied with a laugh. "We're going to have a wonderful fortnight."
Morris was a 17-year-old British girl and Thomas was a 21-year-old paratrooper when they first met in London shortly before D-Day. After the war, he returned to the U.S. The pair wrote letters to each other, and Thomas asked Morris to come to the U.S. to marry him. But somehow Morris misunderstood and thought he'd found someone else, so she stopped writing.
The two eventually married other people. Thomas' wife died in 2001; Morris divorced her husband after 30 years.
Last year, Morris asked one of her sons to look for Thomas online, and they found his name featured in an article about D-Day that ran in The Virginian-Pilot newspaper.
Thomas and Morris reconnected via Skype.
During their online conversation, Morris told Thomas how she kept a photo of him and said “good morning” to it every day, according to The Advertiser.
“The only one big problem is I can’t take you in my arms and give you a squeeze,” he had told her at the time.
After their story went public, hundreds of people made donations to help fund Thomas' trip to Australia from his hometown in Virginia Beach.
The two are planning to spend Valentine's Day together.
“It’s been 71 years in the making and it’s been a long trip... three days... so we’re hoping everything works out really nice and we’re really looking forward to it,” Steve Thomas told The Advertiser.
“Yes I’m sure there will be [tears]... especially when we leave,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.